tv NBC Nightly News NBC February 17, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
on the broadcast tonight, brutal crackdown tonight. another american ally uses deadly force to crush a growing protest. and tonight richard engel is on the ground in bahrain. great expectations. the women in egypt who are hoping revolution means a better life for them. the question is will the men there share their dreams? fighting back. in wisconsin, thousands of state workers say no to deep cuts that hit them hard. is it a sign of things to come across the nation? remembering christina. christina taylor green, the youngest victim of that tragic shooting in tucson. tonight her grandfather, one of baseball's tough guys, breaking his silence in a heart-breaking way. and it's come to this.
is a college football rivalry really a good enough reason to kill two beautiful living things? "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. there's never been a time like this, especially not in the middle east. but it's an unmistakable wave of empowerment, people-driven protests now in places, three countries for starters, yemen, bahrain and libya, that are not used to this sort of thing and are reacting accordingly. in some cases, violently. in libya alone, reports that 20 protesters were killed. the biggest news, an overnight crackdown. police killing protesters in bahrain, a small island chain of a nation. population about 1 million. almost half the people there from other countries. the whole nation roughly four times the size of washington, d.c. the king and the ruling structure, sunni muslim, but the
population, 70% shiite. importantly, it's the home of the entire u.s. navy fifth fleet of vital importance to the united states. our chief foreign correspondent, richard engel, has made his way there from cairo. he's with us tonight from our cnbc bureau in bahrain. richard, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. this crackdown today was in many ways a preemptive strike by bahrain, this country's way of saying this small but strategically important country will not go the way of egypt and tunisia, but tonight many here feel the crackdown went too far. the protesters are calling what happened an unprovoked massacre. after unrest that had been building all week. on monday, a demonstrator was killed by security forces. at his funeral the next day, another protester was killed. [ speaking in foreign language ]
>> reporter: bahrain's king made a rare address to the nation, offering condolences and calling for an investigation. [ chanting ] >> reporter: but the protesters didn't accept it. they called for an egypt-style sit-in in manama's pearl square. thousands gathered last night. it was peaceful, they were intense. quiet but defiant protests of men, women and families. but at 3:00 a.m. this morning, the crackdown began. police and armored vehicles moved on the square. riot police rushed in, swinging clubs, firing buckshot and volleys of tear gas. there was absolute panic. we did not harm anyone, we were sleeping when they surprised us and attacked us, he said. some protesters claim they were hit by buckshot at close range. others were crushed in a
stampede, as protesters scrambled to escape. at least four people were killed and hundreds injured. it was an emotional scene at the hospital today. we watched with our own eyes as they killed the protesters, this woman said. but today the government offered a different version of events. the foreign minister said troops woke the protesters, warned them to leave, and then left side streets open so they could escape. >> police took every care possible, but this is -- there is nothing that guarantees that a mishap could happen, and that, unfortunately, led to death. >> reporter: state television also showed weapons it claims were found in the protesters' tents and pictures of bahraini police injured by the protesters. but this is not just a pro-democracy movement against the government. the protesters are shiite, and claim they're treated like second class citizens by the
sunni royal family, a sectarian struggle that has the region on edge. bahrain's powerful patron, saudi arabia, a sunni stronghold, would do almost anything to prevent shiite empowerment in the middle east. the united states also uses the fifth fleet based here to protect the oil lanes of the persian gulf and keep a close watch on iran. today secretary clinton offered a careful rebuke of bahrain's crackdown. >> we call on restraint from the government. >> reporter: but bahrain appeared to show little restraint last night. the potential flashpoint tomorrow, brian, when families receive the bodies of the victims. >> richard engel starting us off in bahrain tonight. richard, thank you. tonight after watching citizen uprisings now across the globe for weeks, how about a big one here in the united states. in wisconsin, where the state is broke and where the governor is proposing drastic cuts he says will save billions of dollars.
nbc's kerry sanders reports tonight on the workers who are rising up and saying no to some of the most extreme cuts in the nation. >> i'll continue to keep going around. >> reporter: in wisconsin today, a game of hide and seek. the state legislature's sergeant at arms on the hunt for 14 senate democrats, who fled the state, driving an hour and a half away to neighboring illinois, rather than vote on the republican budget cuts. for the third day, more than 25,000 teachers descended on the wisconsin statehouse. with so many teachers absent from the classroom, schools there shut down again today. civil service employees are upset. with newly elected republican governor scott walker's plans to balance the budget. >> people viewed what we're proposing as being modest. >> reporter: walker says he will cut up to $3.6 billion in the budget, in large part by eliminating unions' collective
bargaining powers to negotiate wages and benefits. >> i think we've lost a sense of democracy. i feel like what people in egypt are fighting for right now, that's exactly what i feel like i'm fighting for right now. >> reporter: budget battles not just in wisconsin. in michigan today, protesters say $1.2 billion in cuts unfairly penalizes government employees. >> no more cuts. >> reporter: in nearly every state and the district of columbia, state budgets are out of whack. >> the national government is passing a lot of its belt tightening down to the states and the states are passing it on to the locals and all of a sudden there's no place else to turn. >> reporter: the short falls are so severe they said if states were businesses, they'd declare bankruptcy. but formal bankruptcy of this sort has never happened before and constitutional experts say it's unclear how a state would even do it. in florida -- >> we can't spend more than we take in. >> reporter: another newly elected republican governor, rick scott, says he will cut almost $5 billion from the state
budget by eliminating police, firefighter and teacher pensions. back in wisconsin tonight, it's a stalemate. senate democrats say they won't return unless the governor budges. kerry sanders, nbc news. in the nation's capital, there is new fallout from the already angry debate over money. your money, your tax dollars, how to turn them into a budget that president obama and the republicans can agree on. kelly o'donnell, our capitol hill correspondent, with us from the hill tonight. kelly, good evening. >> reporter: hi there, brian. well, the temperature was really turned up here today with talk about the chance of a government shutdown. you've got leaders from both parties digging in over how deep and how painful budget cuts need to be. with government spending on the chopping block -- >> when we say we're going to cut spending, read my lips. we're going to cut spending. >> reporter: that provoked the senate's top democrat to accuse
speaker boehner of being reckless enough to trigger a government shutdown. >> and now he's resorting to threats to do just that, without any negotiations. that is not permissible. we will not stand for that. he's wrong. >> reporter: if congress can't agree on cuts soon, the government is scheduled to run out of money to pay its bills in two weeks. but some republicans predicted a more dire fate. >> if we're not careful, the united states will follow the roman empire. >> reporter: there was drama, with a debate until almost 4:00 this morning and again all day over cuts as different as trimming programs to corral wild horses out west. >> it's too expensive and problematic. >> reporter: to complaints about the size of bureaucracy at the transportation security administration. >> the airports i go through, there are way too many tsa employees just standing around. >> reporter: some of the turmoil is actually internal. for conservatives, their
ideology pitted against hometown interests. >> this is not about me. this is not about my district. >> reporter: but when nearly 50 freshmen house republicans voted to eliminate a fighter jet engine considered obsolete, jobs near boehner's ohio district were put at risk. >> listen, i don't want anyone to lose their job, whether they're a federal employee or not. but come on, we're broke. >> reporter: and, brian, i should mention that that fighter jet engine is built by ge, a part owner of nbc. ge still lobbying to restore that funding. meanwhile democrats' biggest complaint is they say these cuts could actually hurt jobs at a time when so many are suffering. >> kelly o'donnell on the hill tonight. kelly, thanks. the stream of encouraging news about congresswoman gabrielle giffords continued today. a family friend says she's able to laugh at jokes, she can recognize visitors, and when her husband asked how she was doing, she said, simply, better. for the family of the youngest victim in that deadly shooting
in tucson, however, there's only sadness. 9-year-old christina taylor green's grandfather, as you may know, is dallas green, a legend in the baseball world. he broke his silence at the phillies spring training camp in florida, saying his family was overwhelmed by the condolences they received. here now dallas green in his own words. >> you know, i'm supposed to be a tough sucker and i'm not very tough when it comes to this. she was our angel. called her tina. of course her mother insists on christina taylor. she embodied what's good about kids, what's good about growing up in the united states. she wanted just to be a little girl that loved doing what she did. she said she was going to be the first major league gal. that's 9 years old. but she was pretty good. she was pretty good. and i did see her swing the bat a couple times and i guess the one thing that i can't get through my mind, even though i'm a hunter and i love to shoot and
i love to have my guns, i don't have a glock or whatever it is and i don't have a magazine with 33 bullets in it. i just don't understand that. we hope we can all get through it and maybe get through it with the help of baseball. it's helped me because it -- you know, obviously you sink yourself into the work and you don't -- you don't see a little girl with a hole in her chest as much. we just miss the hell out of her. >> baseball veteran and grandfather, dallas green, in his own words here tonight. there's a story out of iowa tonight, a standout high school wrestler, a boy, has taken himself out of contention at the state championships because he refuses to wrestle a girl in the opening round. this is the first time girls have qualified for the state tournament there, which started back in 1926. but joel northrup, a sophomore,
says wrestling a girl goes against his own religious beliefs. he says he has, quote, tremendous respect for the accomplishments of the two girls who qualified. when our broadcast continues here tonight, what about the women? we go back to the middle east where the victory in tahrir square may have ignited a second revolution. and later, why would anyone poison a big, beautiful, living thing, a majestic oak tree. many are asking why a long-standing rivalry might have gone way too far.
as we've been reporting, our friend and colleague over at cbs news, their chief foreign correspondent, lara logan, is out of the hospital recovering at home from the brutal assault she endured while covering the uprising and the victory celebrations in egypt. but what happened to her in cairo highlights a huge problem in egypt. what can often be the every day harassment and ill treatment of some women there.
now, many women, some of them who played a role in the revolution we've been covering, hope the new order in egypt will change all that. our report from nbc's stephanie gosk. >> reporter: when egypt's revolution swept into tahrir square, one thing quickly became clear. women were not going to be left behind. before january 25th, men dominated what few demonstrations there were in this country. this time women stood shoulder to shoulder with them in larger numbers than ever before, protesting as equals. 25-year-old lumna, a free lance tv producer, was in the square every day. >> when you joined the protests, were you surprised by how many women were out there? >> yes. it was impressive. >> reporter: women like her hope the spirit of equality sparked in tahrir square might spread throughout the country. >> i want equality. between women and men. what you can do, i can do. that's it.
>> reporter: achieving that equality could turn out to be more difficult than toppling a president. in egypt women are guaranteed more rights by law than most muslim countries. they don't have to cover their heads, they can drive cars and go to the university. but the reality is that this country is very religious and very conservative. mahmoud shoukry owns this coffee shop two hours from cairo, nowhere near tahrir square. there are some things, he says, women are not free to decide themselves. >> translator: a woman has to cover her head because we are an islamic country. this is what our country dictates. this is what our religion dictates. >> reporter: egypt is ranked 125th out of 134 countries in gender equality. 45% of all rural women are illiterate and a recent survey says 75% of egyptians believe men should be given jobs over women in tough economic times. >> we need social change. for many years, egypt has been more conservative year after year. >> reporter: but for 18 days,
our own big board. you've probably heard the news by now that ibm supercomputer watson won a resounding victory on "jeopardy" against the two best human players of all time. here now a sample of what watson sounded like during the match. >> what is eleanor rigby. what is leprosy. who is the church lady. >> yes. >> hedge hodgepodge for 400. >> most jeopardy contestants who win are thrilled. watson, of course, didn't know he won, can't feel thrilled. he or it can't feel anything at all. watson did make a few embarrassing mistakes along the way, naming toronto, for
example, as a u.s. city, but still he earned $1 million for charity. the humans he defeated to get to the winner's circle should remember it took humans to program watson in the first place. the nbc family has lost a veteran member and long-time friend. bill monroe has died. he was at one time our nbc news bureau chief in washington, and from 1975 to '84 moderator of "meet the press." a proud native of new orleans, a veteran of world war ii, bill monroe was the very first news director at our station in new orleans, wdsu, during the civil rights era, and he aired some ground-breaking weekly editorials supporting the integration of the city schools. it was an unpopular position at the time. bill monroe passed away early this morning. he was 90 years old. the condolences of the entire nbc family go out to his family. and in hollywood, the character actor len lesser has died. despite a long list of tv and
movie credits, he was not terribly well known until he started chewing up the scenery as jerry's uncle leo on "seinfeld." >> jerry! >> uncle leo! >> hello! how are you? >> the real-life jerry seinfeld called lesser one of his favorites, and a very sweet man. veteran actor len lesser was 88 years old. when we come back here tonight, should living things, especially the old majestic kind, have to die because of college football? tonight the drama and mystery surrounding a southern landmark.
our final report tonight comes from the american south, where as you may know they take their college football very seriously, and rivalries can get pretty heated. but tonight we have a story about a long-standing rivalry where things have now gotten out of hand. and because of what has happened, what one man has apparently done, the entire auburn university community and alabama is heartbroken. our report from nbc's ron mott. >> reporter: for generations, auburn fans have streamed into toomer's corner to celebrate big moments, like last month's
national football championship. yet little did they know the pair of 130-year-old live oak trees they historically roll with toilet paper in triumph were under attack, poisoned, police say, by an apparent rival. >> al is in dadeville, alabama. hey, al. >> reporter: police tell nbc news that rival 62-year-old harvey almorn updyke, a supporter of the alabama crimson tide, broadcast his dirty deeds three weeks ago on a national radio call-in show. >> i poisoned the two toomer's trees. they're not dead yet but they definitely will die. >> is that against the law to poison a tree? >> do you think i care? >> no. >> okay. i really don't. roll damn tide. >> the caller said it's revenge for auburn fans rolling those same trees when bear bryant died in 1983. today on auburn's campus, a memorial and a painful question hanging in the air. will the trees live?
>> the concentration of spike basically found within the soil would suggest there is a very low probability. >> reporter: spike 80 df was found in the soil in lethal concentrations. despite the long odds for their survival, the university is doing all it can to try to save these trees. even if they don't make it, the auburn faithful say this cherished tradition will go on. >> vandalizing someone's property, that's just wrong. >> in the end we'll still roll. it won't be the same. >> reporter: roll, no matter what, to keep a century old legacy from being uprooted. ron mott, nbc news, auburn, alabama. a quick word here about tomorrow night's "making a difference" report. as we head into daytona 500 weekend for all of us motorheads, a big name in racing, who is helping kids with chronic illnesses, whose names he will never know and making a lot of lives better in the process. that's tomorrow night's "making
a difference" report followed next week by a week's worth of special reports on those who are giving back. for now, that is our broadcast for this thursday night. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com bay area on storm watch. rain, wind, take a look, even snow. the latest on the conditions and what to expect as we head into this holiday weekend. >> president obama, just touched down in the bay area. coming up, details on who he is meeting with, why he is here. >> developments involving the san bruno pipeline explosion, why pg & e says you could be covering some of their costs. news at 6:00 starts right now.